schmidtploecker architekten: Modern. Not trendy!
S pa. schmidtploecker architekten. bda, with headquarters in Frankfurt/Main, is a rising star among architectural offices in the Frankfurt-Rhine-Main area. Founded in 2010, the architects Markus Plöcker and Christian Olaf Schmidt, and their team of 50 architects and designers, successfully work on projects both in Germany and abroad. spa. is more than just a traditional architectural office and explores innovative and unconventional solutions for offices, residential or public buildings.
For Markus Plöcker and Christian Olaf Schmidt, a holistic approach to architecture is a key point in finding solutions for complex architectural challenges – starting with a concept and ending with successful interior design for a new building or the refurbishment of existing building stock. Their philosophy rests on three pillars: Social responsibility, ecological and technological innovation and economic efficiency. Social responsibility means recognising the important role architecture plays for urban development, but also to focus on longevity and high-quality architecture and design. “Our architecture preserves the identity of and the connection with a place,” the architects say. Their architecture is modern, but not simply just fashionable. Good furniture might last a lifetime, while poorly designed and built pieces will be thrown out after a few years. The same is the case for buildings: “We put great effort into choosing high-quality materials that age gracefully and won’t look scruffy. Organic plaster, for example, has to be repainted after a few years, but a mineral one will stay presentable for a far longer timespan.” This is why knowing the materials is so important.
Both architects first completed an apprenticeship as cabinetmakers, which gave them both a greater appreciation for the responsible use of materials. Markus Plöcker and Christian Olaf Schmidt find inspiration in the work of architects that know their craft: Arno Lederer, Renzo Piano or Christoph Mäckler have shaped them, even though, today, not one particular style is at the core of their architecture, but rather the individual task and building which then shapes the design. “It is our goal to work and rework the design until we have found the optimum solution,” they say.
No building is a singular entity but emerges in an already designed environment. “The vision of a complex and dense city, of a multifaceted society and a defined space for all people who will live and work here, is elementary for us,” says Christian Olaf Schmidt, and Markus Plöcker adds: “Architecture for us is the interaction with context and everything we find around the construction task to enhance and beautify it. Architecture is a serving form of art, responsible for good cohabitation.” Space and its usage cannot be separated. “Our architecture wants to enhance the positive togetherness of people; diversity, interaction and a lively exchange are mutually dependent.” This is why architects have to understand the space they are working in.
spa.’s second pillar is the focus on ecologically responsible buildings and the use of modern technology. Their buildings intend to reduce the CO2 footprint through the choice of materials or energy efficient insulation. “Building beautifully on its own is simply not enough. We take our responsibility seriously. Building and living to a high degree contribute to harmful emissions and the greenhouse effect, not to speak of waste and solid pollutants. We are always looking for the least harmful material,” says Schmidt. The architectural office is a member of the DGNB, the German society for sustainable building, and ‘Cradle to Cradle’.
Among the new and innovative approaches spa. explores is, for instance, BIM. Short for ‘Building Information Modelling’, BIM is an optimised method for planning, building and managing buildings through advanced software. This not only makes the process more efficient, but also more transparent for developers. This directly links to the third pillar: The architectural process and the economic efficiency. Building with the user and owner in mind is key, and that means when developing a concept, the costs always have to be considered – not only for the building phase itself, but also the later operation and maintenance.
The people and the space are the formative elements for Markus Plöcker’s and Christian Olaf Schmidt’s architecture. “Good architecture moves, supports, is strikingly discreet, versatile, pleases and stimulates. But this never can be an end in itself. The society and changing requirements are the measurement for the acceptance of architecture,” says Plöcker, and Schmidt adds: “We strive for appropriateness and quality. We are interested in the question if the building as a whole is successful. Good architecture is like a limb – it has to function and fit into the body. Good architecture makes people feel at home and ensouled.”
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